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Kratom Gaining Popularity Among Teens

Kratom On the Rise

IDAHO FALLS - There is a new drug craze that's becoming popular with teens. The drug is called Kratom and most drug counselors aren't familiar with it.

In Asian countries, chewing Kratom is considered similar to drinking coffee, but now Kratom is gaining attention in the U.S., where drug is legal.

Kratom comes from the leaves of the tropical decidious Kratom tree that's native to Thailand. It has been around for decades in southeast Asia and been used to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia.

Tobacco stores carry Kratom in packets of eight for $8.99. Taking a couple Kratom capsules can produce extra energy, but take a few more and Kratom becomes a sedative.

"It can be the best of both worlds. They're calling it the organic speed ball. The scary thing is it's unheard of to the professionals," said David Penigar, executive director of the Renaissance Ranch Treatment Center in Idaho Falls.

He added Kratom appeals to users of bath salts and salvia, and because it is legal, Kratom is becoming socially acceptable among teens who don't see it as dangerous.

"To me this is just another drug, it's another substance that's flying under the DEA's radar just like bath salts, just like salvia, just like spice," said Penigar.

Kratom is not regulated in the U.S, but it is listed on the "Concern List" on the DEA's website.

Kratom leaves are commonly boiled into tea, taken by capsules or smoked. The side effects include skin darkening, anorexia, hallucinations and nausea.

Even though the plant is native to southeast Asia, many Asian countries have banned Kratom.

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